Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Chariots of Ire: Puttnam Castigates 'Complacent' Sector: News:TimesHigherEducationWorldAcademicSummit

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Chariots of Ire: Puttnam Castigates 'Complacent' Sector: News:TimesHigherEducationWorldAcademicSummit

Article excerpt

Universities suffer from a "disease of complacency" and are often "actively resistant" to technological change, according to the Oscar- winning film producer Lord Puttnam of Queensgate.

During a highly critical address at the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit in Singapore on 4 October, he also attacked the academy's tenure system and the lack of rewards for good teachers.

Lord Puttnam, who is the chancellor of The Open University and whose films include the 1981 Academy Award winner Chariots of Fire, said that for universities, "existing strengths will count for little unless we embrace advances in audio-visual technology".

But despite "evidence about huge unsettling changes everywhere", universities had adopted "Canute-like thinking" towards technological advances and were more generally laden down with an "incumbency" mindset.

The US tenure system, for example, "badly needs to be taken up and roundly discussed", Lord Puttnam said.

He added: "It's an idea that would not be taken seriously in other professions."

The academy was suffering from a "disease of complacency", he warned, was "too self-referential", overly "pleased with itself" and "actively resistant to change".

As an example, he recounted his experience of a collaboration between Google and The Open University on online provision, an initiative he had been involved with. …

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